GRETA AND JOHN RIDEOUT - THE FIRST AMERICAN MARITAL RAPE CASE

October 10, 1978: This is another famous/notorious case that needs no citations. In Oregon, Greta Rideout phones the police telling them she has just been beaten by her husband John. When they turn up, she claims he had raped her. This led to Oregon v Rideout, the first time in the United States a man was charged with raping his wife (while they were still living as man and wife).

The case came to trial in December 1978; his version was that they’d had an argument over sundry matters which resulted in her kneeing him in the groin. He slapped her, and they ended up making up by making out. She said he had punched her repeatedly in the face and sexually violated her. She had since filed for divorce. A physician said there were signs of forced intercourse but he could not be sure. After Rideout’s acquittal, the two agreed to an amicable divorce. For the record, it has never been legal for a man to rape his wife in the United States anymore than in England; a man who violated his wife either physically or sexually could be charged with an offence - and there are such cases - but forced sex was not charged as rape. John Rideout sold his story afterwards.


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